Auto-tune the Spirit…

How far can we go in crafting a relevant (there’s that word again), interesting, stylistic worship service before we go TOO far?

The answer to that question is up for debate, as we each bring our own preconceived notions about what a worship service should consist of, including, but not limited to (but possibly by), our own personal tastes.

Some like it old school, while others prefer a more contemporary flair. Even still, there are those who believe drums to be the harbinger of the Great Beast, while others consider them to be essential to bringing about the call for worship.

Regardless of how you slice it, we are all still divided.

In a post on Collide, Scott McClellan attempts to address the subject by linking to Allen Noble’s post regarding a recent worship service at Elevation Church in which the worship team performed an auto-tuned version of “All Creatures of Our God and King.”

The offending (or unoffending, however you feel) song rendition is below.

(You really should click those links before reading any further so you can have some context as to what I’m talking about. Plus, those men speak with much more grace and eloquence than I do, and for all I know, you’ll find anything I have to say on the matter completely useless; which may very well be the truth.)

Honestly? As far as the song goes, I love the sound of it. I’ll admit it, I can be a sucker for contemporized versions of hymns, and the auto-tune fad would only seem like a logical choice to experiment with.

Now, what really gets me is the video itself. Or, to be more specific, what the video contains.

I feel as if I’m watching a concert.

Before I go any further, I must admit that this is clip is taken completely out of context, and therefore, I cannot speak to what the intentions of Elevation Church were at the time. It could very well be that this is a portion of the worship service similar to “special music”, as McClellan posits.

This isn’t an attack on Elevation Church by any means; rather, it is more so a lamenting of the current state of worship in the Church today. Suffice it to say, I take a position very similar to that of McClellan’s, so there really isn’t much more for me to say.

But what about you? Do you think this is just an issue a few old farts are whining about, or is there legitimate concern here? I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments.


8 thoughts on “Auto-tune the Spirit…

  1. The song isn’t a big deal to me. Worship is a weird thing that gets muddled too much with taste and personal preference and, no matter what is done, this won’t change.

    What I would say is that it’s interesting that such a thing is actually putting people up in arms. Do I think auto-tune is a cheap pop-culture ploy to save those how are famous but lack talent? Yes. Can it be used in a cool way to enhance a song…maybe. Either way, its a fad and, like all fads, the church loves to play with them when everyone else is tired of it already.

    Is this a performance? Yep. How can it not be? There are colored lights and…is that a smoke machine? But, in the end, what does it matter? If the audience wants a concert, they get a concert. If they want to worship, they’ll worship. That’s a personal choice. Sure I feel the whole razz-a-ma-taz distracting and pointless but that’s just me. So people find this the pinnacle of worship.

    Well, more power to them. The church has bigger fish to fry.

  2. I don’t know what to think, but here are some thoughts going through my mind:

    – I think that the church needs to make a clear distinction between church service and concert.

    – Worship can be done in both. However, I think both are two different venues for worship. One implies participation (church) and one implies performance (concert).

    – The big difference, I see, between going to church and going to see a David Crowder concert, is that in church I am expecting to participate in worship, not stand by and watch.

    – Also, I would ask, what is the attitude and intension of the worship leader: are they there to lead people to God’s throne, or put on a good show?

    – From the statement that Elevation church gave, I would say they planned to put on a good show, and if people came along to worship God, fine.

    Don’t know, Jared. There is a line to be drawn. I do think that worship nowadays is getting more “performance” focused and less “drawing-to-the-throne” focused.

  3. My most profound worship experiences have been with a dude leading on an acoustic guitar, so for me, all the lines about how these performances enhance the worship are baloney. Not to say that you CAN’T worship with music like the example above, but if your music in any way detracts from truly coming before the Lord and worshiping Him (or even has the potential of doing that), I think it is a slippery slope to making your worship music an idol.

    I believe it’s the Church’s job to teach people how to worship and engage the Lord, and for this reason, I think churches like this one are somewhat in the wrong. Feel free to disagree.

  4. Ruth Haydon says:

    I agree with Shawn. This would be fine for a concert, it it’s your kind of music. I am old school and prefer hymns as they were written. I guess the question is, is this special music that ministers to me, or is it supposed to be corporate worship? If you want all to participate, you need to have the music in singable form for the whole congregation.

  5. I really like what Hartman had to contribute. It seems to me that auto-tuning, being a fun fad of our times, is but an outward garment adorned on the Body of Christ, and it’s fashion is seasonal at best. This is not to suggest that it is bad – I am not under the impression that it is at all bad, it just matters very little. Again, I agree with Hartman, there are deeper things to manage.

    What’s more, I think this worship/performance distinction is almost pointless in terms of talking about what “ought to be.” With so many varieties of worship, varieties of personality, not to mention differing states of spiritual maturity, it is quite difficult to discern what is right or wrong about another person’s style or choice of worship. This makes being a worship leader an “always lose” position because there will always be someone who is not jiving with the style and/or choices of the leader. A part of this has to do with submission to something other and bigger than yourself and your preferences and tastes for the sake of being conformed to the whole of the group/community at hand.

    Whether a worship service is worship or performance depends solely upon the individual’s perspective, state of mind, etc. It is very difficult to judge another’s authenticity in worship; indeed, it is fool-hardy and assumptive to try. Furthermore, the state of my brother or sister beside me, while perhaps distracting or influential, has no bearing, ultimately, on one’s choice in and commitment to worshiping God. Even the worship leader may be inauthentic in his worship, but that is of no consequence to the listener/follower. The Spirit always moves through broken vessels and the experience and leadership of worship is no different.

    Sometimes worship is an active thing, sometimes it is a passive thing; sometimes I must engage in corporate worship alongside brothers and sisters and sometimes I must submit to and let others take an active role in worship as I fall silent in submission and acceptance of something or someone other than myself. But who can know when it is that I must do such and such? That seems to be only the Holy Spirit’s vocation. It seems to me that one of the most important lessons to learn in worship is, (whoa, this is original…) to die to your self – your selfish preferences of style and taste, the selfishness that tells you it is about what you want/need or what you presume others want/need. It is essential to kill those seeds of disunion and selfishness within yourself in order to acknowledge and submit to something bigger and greater than you, and to do this every single time you worship with brothers and sisters.

  6. Pingback: Auto-tune the Spirit…Remix… « The Screaming Room

  7. I agree a lot with what Hartman was saying. I will interject though that I had the same feeling about light shows and things until recently. Honestly, that is why I never enjoyed P&W Chapels here at Huntington. I thought too much emphasis was on the “show” of it. Recently though I talked to a couple of guys who do lighting for a local church back home in Indianapolis and they had an interesting point. The “show” side of a worship service is their unique way to worship God. As is the sound mixing. Those are just avenues used by the guys doing it to please God in their own unique way. Take that for what you will, but just a different point of view.

  8. Pingback: Elsewhere: Netflix is Sorryish, Elevation starts a Conversation, PETA and Porn, and Seinfeld the Oracle of Facebook | Christ and Pop Culture

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s